By Sheree Sardar
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – People gathered in mosques across Pakistan on Monday to offer special prayers for Eid al-Adha, the second of Islam’s two major religious festivals.
The government has called for the festival to be observed in a “simple manner” this year, to express solidarity with Kashmiris living on the Indian side of the divided region.
On August 5, India dropped a constitutional provision that had allowed its only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, to make its own laws, and also broke up the state into two federally administered territories.
The changes are the most sweeping in the nearly 30 years that India has been battling a revolt in its portion of Kashmir, parts of which are claimed by Pakistan and China.
Pakistan expelled India’s ambassador and suspended trade in anger at New Delhi’s latest move.
On Monday Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi travelled to Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, to offer Eid prayers at a mosque there.
“(I) have come here to express Pakistan’s solidarity with you,” Qureshi told worshippers.
In the southern city of Karachi, prayers were dedicated to Kashmiris in India.
“We are together with our Kashmiri brothers,” said resident Mohammad Adnan. “We share their pain and grief. Today, special prayers were offered for them inside the mosque.”
Eid al-Adha or the “festival of sacrifice” is celebrated each year on the 10th day of the 12th and last month of the lunar Islamic calendar.
As many as 10 million animals worth up to $3 billion are sacrificed during the festival, the Pakistan Tanners’ Association says.
(Reporting by Sheree Sardar, Editing by Alasdair Pal and Clarence Fernandez)